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  1. #1
    Warren Bonesteel

    Cover letter for book reviewers?

    I'm new at this, so I need some input regarding the merits of including a cover letter with a book to be sent to book reviewers. For example, The Atlantic Monthly is interested in looking at my very first book. Should I send a cover letter? If so, should I do more than just introduce myself? Tell something about the book, perhaps, and how it came to be written?

    Input? Advice? Comments? Go jump in a lake?

    Thanks fer yer help.

  2. #2
    ahmed omar

    Re: Cover letter for book reviewers?

    Hi Warren, Let me the first to congratulate you for your progress of your book. I am glade Atlantic Monthly showed an interest in your book. I will try my best to give you few inputs about general submission. Here it goes.
    Cover letter is a tracking document. It’s shown around the agencies and editorial offices. If it’s junior staffer who first reads it, it’s shown to bosses. It’s brought to a meeting and discussed. It is the best indication that writer is someone to be taken seriously and therefore the letter has to be taken seriously by you the writer Warren.
    Cover letters are almost always too long. Containing a full synopsis of the book, a “short” bio that relates every event since entering high school, a myriad of marketing ideas, uninformed predictions about an enormous audience and bestseller status, most letters ramble, on trying to do everything at once. Margins get thinner, font sizes smaller and everything get lost.
    A good submission has a fairly brief cover letter, carefully written, and includes:
    An explanation of why you’ve chosen to submit to this agent or house. The opening usually tells the publisher (Dear Warren, here’s my manuscript, How to Right a Camel in the Desert, that you asked to see when we met at the Sahara Desert Writers Conference…or …as per our phone call last month, I’m sending my memoir, Tall Warren in Writers Jungle World). If it was referred then you will write. (I am sending my manuscript at the request of your client Warren B… or …Your author Omar The Tent Maker, who was in my MFA program, suggested I send my novel, Apathy in the Time of Diphtheria, when it was finished).
    Highlight of your career / education (past high school only)
    A three-sentence description of the book
    Author endorsements if you have any
    A mention of the audience/market

    The List of thing the publishers don’t need know is:
    Testimony from your mother/father/sibling/friends
    Your promise it will be a best seller
    Assurances of you willingness to go on Oprah
    Any self-comparisons to John Grisham, Ahmed Omar, Stephen King, or my favorite lady of YA author J.K. Rowling.
    The name of your pets

    Remember to attach, as separate items, as two-page synopsis, a one-page bio or even a resume, and marketing plan if you want. If they need more information they can refer to the collateral material.

    Oh I almost forgot, the short bio within the cover letter should mention past books (and sales if they were good and maybe even a few words of a good review from prestigious source).

    Hope this helps, and best to you Warren.

  3. #3
    Warren Bonesteel

    Re: Cover letter for book reviewers?

    Thanks, Ahmed. I am going to take your recommendations seriously. ...looks like I gotta re-think my strategy a bit. Below is a rough draft of what I had in mind...which is why I asked for some input...

    The Morning Coffee column is used as a venue to instruct others in, and from, a wide variety of studies in many of the sundry professions and pseudo-professions in the world today. The topics that are discussed from those professions include, but by no means are limited to: psychology, cartography, archaeology, sociology, anthropology, science and technology, spirituality, religion, politics, history, literature, the classics, social engineering, management, business, military studies, morality, ethics, and even, on occasion, quantum mechanics and space exploration. We discuss gardening, landscaping, stewardship, construction, finish carpentry, dedication, commitment, honor, justice, judgment, forgiveness, love and acceptance, racial profiling, prejudice of all kinds, patriotism, constitutional governments versus republicanism and as compared to monarchies and theocracies, as well as other areas of political studies.

    We explore every school of thought imaginable. From Freud, and Jungian philosophy in psychiatry and psychology, to the merits of Frost, Thoreau, C.S. Lewis and Shakespeare. We discuss the long term social and economic effects of microbiology and nano-tech on the world. We explore the basics tenants of freedom, liberty, truth, leadership, game theory, philosophy, Joseph Campbell and mythology along with the effects of ritualistic behaviors in our modern world. Linguistics, and the use of language in logic and rhetoric, are also among the many subjects discussed in Morning Coffee.

    Simile, metaphor, humor, comparative analysis, and many other literary tools are used in the book, as well as in the online columns. The book’s interior design, including the lack of ‘proper’ proof reading, are purposely designed. There is no index. There are no footnotes. There is no bibliography and there is no glossary. The cover has been designed to visually explain Morning Coffee and it’s multitudinous underlying themes. A certain level of art appreciation is necessary on the reader’s part as well. The book cover itself is metaphorical in nature, and includes a number of underlying themes. The illustrations contained in the book are very simple, yet very powerful, and are placed within the book in such a way as to elicit the most visceral impact possible upon the reader’s sensibilities. There are underlying themes for each ‘essay’, as well as underlying themes for the book as a whole. Each and every part of this book is purposely designed.

    The vernacular that I’ve used in writing Morning Coffee is a legitimate, and separate, English language. According to linguists, there are well over one hundred legitimate English languages in use in the United States today. Those numbers do not include the many and varied types of patois or slang currently in use.

    This book reaches deeply into our common mythologies and shakes them loose in a way that is hard to deny, and makes the book hard to put down once you begin to read it.


    Warren “Bones” Bonesteel
    55 Crestview Drive
    Rapid City, SD 57701
    (605) 388-3005

  4. #4
    Cindy Kay

    Re: Cover letter for book reviewers?


    I'm just reading some book promotion books, and one of them stated that reviewers don't like to get review requests and copies from authors. They prefer to get them from the publisher. Something about an extra buffer between the reviewer and author to safeguard objectivity.

    I'd ask my publisher or publicist to send the review copy.

    If you are self-published and must submit it yourself, I'd rethink this letter. Just something short and punchy. Your broad scope gets lost in lists upon lists. Also, who cares about the venacular you choose or the lack of a glossery. If I were a reviewer, I'd be afraid of opening the book, assuming that it was just as long-winded and vague. Focus more on the tone/slant of your book, not on its range of topics. Anyone can mention a bunch of topics, what's interesting and unique is your take/approach to those topics. Know what I mean?

    I think Ahmed was talking about a cover letter for a query package, not a review copy. Or I misunderstood your post and question.

  5. #5
    Jack Web

    Re: Cover letter for book reviewers?

    Exactly, Cindy. Has reading with comprehension become a thing of the past? This is the second time in a week I've seen reply posts that totally miss the actual topic, and talk about soemthing else entirely.
    This time it's Ahmed telling someone how to submit a query package, when he asked about a published book review. Not even close.
    Last week, all the replies about dealing with a publisher became dealing with an agent.
    Ahmed can't RWC and Warren can't either, since he never realized Ahmed's mistake.
    People make mistakes, but on a writer's board, you'd think reading would be a proven skill.
    If you can't read with comprehension, how can you write with same?

  6. #6
    Warren Bonesteel

    Re: Cover letter for book reviewers?

    "...looks like I gotta re-think my strategy a bit. Below is a rough draft of what I had in mind...which is why I asked for some input..."

    My cover letter's first draft was posted as an example of why I was asking for input...

    I did read Ahmed's post, and I gathered the information that I needed from it. I chose not to comment on it's apparent misapprehension of my purpose. (I love alliteration!)

    Cindy, I began my own book promotions long before the publisher started with their marketing of the book. This included contacting several book reviewers personally. As I was the one who made the initial contact through press releases and personal letters of introduction, I thought it only proper that I finish what I had begun.

  7. #7
    Warren Bonesteel

    Re: Cover letter for book reviewers?

    "Your broad scope gets lost in lists upon lists."

    Cindy, that has been a concern of mine as well. I may use the phrase "broad scope" in my final draft. Thanks for your input! Below is another rough draft of a possible cover letter...

    “Folks been visitin’ with us fer a spell, well, they know all about how there’s lots of things a goin’ on when we visit over coffee inna mornin’. I did my best to include that inna book design…where I could get away with it. Things ain’t always what ya think they are, ya know. I wanted to make sure that the book was designed and laid out the same way as the column is. The font don’t look quite the way I’d hoped it would inna book form, but it works real good fer the overall purpose. ‘First thing yer gonna think when ya open it, is that it’s laid out pretty much like a manual of sorts.”

    “Them other writers, journalists, some folks inna book industry, and some of them reviewers ain’t gonna get it, though! That’s cool, too! Folks who judge by appearances ain’t gonna like the book none at all, I’m a tellin’ ya! This book ain’t about appearances. It’s about substance. It’s also about my First Amendment rights to free speech. Sayin‘ things the way I wanta say ‘em, and the devil and intellectual elitists be damned.”

    “Morning Coffee, a manual for life and livin’ it. A workbook for the text of life. You can write in this book folks. Keep yer notes right there. Ain’t no questions or tests except fer gettin’ ‘er right when ya head out the door inna mornin‘. Ain’t nuthin’ formal or all dressed up about this book. Take it anywhere ya wanta go, too. Life Is messy, and this book ya don’t haveta worry much about gettin’ messy with it. I’d consider it quite a compliment if it’d end up with a few coffee rings onna pages here and there. Get dirty fingerprints all over it if ya wanta! Ya might wanta keep it out of the swimmin’ hole, though…”

    “I colored outside the lines on this one, folks. Just like a little kid with his first colorin’ book! Some folks get real irritated when ya start colorin’ outside the lines. I used to be that way myself. Got to the point some little kids didn’t like to have their colorin’ books out when I was around… Thing I wasn’t payin’ any attention to…is that the kids were just havin’ fun. A little bit of joy. Creativity is found in that. Individuality, too. Freedom, mebbe. Some little bit of happiness. …and mebbe even some little bit of wisdom… Colorin’ outside the lines ain’t necessarily a bad thing, ya know.”

    The book as a whole is a work of art the likes of which hasn’t been seen before in publishing at any time, or at any place. This book reaches deeply into our common mythologies and shakes them loose in a way that is hard to deny, and makes the book hard to put down once you begin to read it.


    Warren “Bones” Bonesteel
    55 Crestview Drive
    Rapid City, SD 57701

    Please remember: The original question that I posed concerned the relative merits of inluding a cover letter (or not) with a book that is to be sent to a book reviewer.

    The title of the thread may not have been stated as clearly as I had hoped.

  8. #8
    Dave Kuzminski

    Re: Cover letter for book reviewers?

    Keep the letter brief and to the point. It's not your job to write information that the reviewer should pick up from reading the book. If the reviewer can't discern the book's purpose and such, then your book is missing its target. Any letter that attempts to direct the reviewer's attention to what you intended will probably backfire because the reviewer might then have reason to think that you didn't cover that properly in the book. Then the reviewer might not pay as close attention to your book as it would have otherwise enjoyed.

    SO, keep the letter brief and to the point. "Thank you for accepting a copy of Blah Blah to review. If possible, could you notify me when the review is coming out and where?"

    Nothing more needs to be stated.

  9. #9
    KJ --

    Re: Cover letter for book reviewers?

    What info did you give this reviewer when you made initial contact about your book? I believe my publicist includes a press release with any initial contact, which provides all the info a reviewer would need in precise, readable form. Then, any cover letter included with the book can simply let the reviewer know that this is the book we've been talking about.

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